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Studio Stuff – Wood-burned Starbuck

posted on July 9, 2016

Woodblock Starbook

I had a surprise arrive in the mail not long ago. Apparently, one of Funky’s readers has a hobby of wood-burning iconic comic book covers and then coloring them. He sent me examples of some that he had done and they were amazing. Much to my delight, included in the package was wood-burned and colored copy of the first Starbuck Jones cover that Joe Station had created for Funky. How one corrals the patience to produce something like this is beyond my ken, but, suffice to say, it now holds down pride of place atop the bookcase in my studio.

Flash Fridays – The Flash #139 September 1963

posted on July 8, 2016

The Flash no.139

This issue rolled in late in August just before school was about to begin. I used to once know the technical reason why the publication dates were always a month or so ahead of the time when you actually found yourself holding the issue in your hands, but suffice to say this issue represented the last gasp of summer. So curling up with the comic and a glass of lemonade on a rainy summer afternoon was just what the doctor ordered to stave-off the horrifying specter of school lurking just over the horizon.

Reversing the Flash’s uniform colors to create a villain would seem at first to be a rather pedestrian idea, but writer John Broome was able to spin it into a book-length SF tale that elevated the work to a higher floor. Rather than burying it in the ground, a time capsule is sent into the future, probably to cut down on the long wait before it’s opened. Things look pretty rosy until its scientist creator realizes that the atomic clock contained within the capsule will turn into an atomic bomb when it arrives in the future (probably because they both contain the word “atomic”). However, it won’t turn into a bomb right away, so the Flash hops on his cosmic treadmill to go to the future and retrieve it before that happens.

Meanwhile, “while Flash bends every nerve to attain the future and prevent a disaster”, the time capsule lands and is looted. The atomic clock/bomb disappears along with one of the Flash’s uniforms. Said uniform ends up in the hands of a crook known as the Professor who is able to amplify wave patterns in the uniform to give himself super speed. He then dyes the uniform to its reverse colors and, viola, we have Professor Zoom the Reverse Flash. The good Flash arrives in the future with nerves bent but otherwise ok to dispatch Professor Zoom and detonate the atomic bomb in the arctic. It would be hard to predict from his first appearance what the arc of Professor Zoom’s career would be, but, down the road, writers who were just kids when first reading this, would turn that somewhat silly name into something that would send the proverbial chills down the spine. Stay tuned, Kids.

One final thought here, for anyone interested in reading the stories that have appeared in this blog to date, they’re all available in a beautiful new Omnibus Edition that recently came out from DC Comics. If I didn’t already own these tales in more than one iteration, I’d be pushing you out of the way at the comics shop to grab a copy. Still might.

Match to Flame 23

posted on July 7, 2016

Plain Dealer Announcement

Finally, a launch date of March 27, 1972, was set for Funky. I remember coming home from school the day that the sales campaign started, lying down on the bed in our apartment, and realizing that there wasn’t anything more I could do. Funky’s fate was in the hands of others. The syndicate sales – men are the unsung warriors of the comics business. Without their efforts, there wouldn’t be an American comics page, let alone a reason to be doing this book.
As it turned out, Funky’s fate was in some excellent hands. Bob Coles was the head of sales for Publisher’s-Hall, and his staff of Dick Lafave, Don Lane, Fred Dingman, and Bill McGhee helped Funky launch in more than seventy papers nationwide. Later, the ball would be moved further down the field by the addition to the sales staff of four former teachers: John Killian, Jack Prahl, George Haeberlein, and Bill Weir. Having just left the teaching trenches, these men got Funky, and that knowledge translated into a rapidly growing client list. Now the ball was handed back to me. The salesmen were getting Funky into papers across the country, but I had to keep it there.

*From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Vol. One